Virgin goddesses/gods

Discussion in 'Greek Mythology' started by Olsen, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. Olsen

    Olsen Member

    Besides Athena and Artemis, do you know any other virgin goddesses in the Greek mythology? Are there any virgin gods, or gods that haven't got offspring?

    I'm interested in the aspect of virginity in mythology. I find it fascinating to view the way in which the Greeks' libertine society perceived purity, chastity, abstinence...
  2. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    I think Hestia was a virgin.
  3. LegendofJoe

    LegendofJoe Active Member

    Yes, Hestia is a virgin goddess. I think that is it for the goddesses.
    I never heard of a virgin Greek god though.

    I heard of a virgin Aztec god: Quetzalcoatl. That is, until he was made drunk by his rival Tezcatlipoca.
    He was so drunk that he slept with his sister. In shame he left Mexico and headed east, vowing one day to return.
    From the east Cortez came, and many thought he was the returning god.
  4. Libros

    Libros Member

    In what way was Greek society "libertine?" As opposed to what?

    It's worth noting that the three main chaste goddesses were ones dedicated to male pursuits or nothing at all. Athena was a warrior, and greatly favoured men over women. Artemis was a hunter, a man's activity, and she represents untamed wild savagery, undesirable of your ideal civilized Greek person. Hestia, while representing the hearth and home, was barely represented in myth at all. Her role was purely functional and essential to the preservation of the state. She was never depicted as having a life, adventures, or anything of substance outside tending a hearth.

    Athena's chastity allowed her to function properly as a warrior and defender of the state, done by men. Sex for her got in the way of her "manly" job. Artemis' chastity and wild abandon of the city to hunt was seen as the opposite of the ideal Greek woman's role to stay home, marry, and have children. Sex for her was repugnant yet contrary to what women stood for. Hestia/Vesta's chastity was symbolic of the purity of the state; if she were violated, the state was corrupted. Sex for her was the end of everyone.

    In this light it's a challenge to see that virginity was upheld as a positive trait that beautified Greek women. The sooner they married and lost it, the better they were.

    Meanwhile, the goddesses who were not chaste had their own issues. Hera could never control her husband and their children were Ares, or Ares and Hephaestus, gods seen as malevolent and ugly. Aphrodite could never keep her legs closed and punished vain women. Demeter's fruitfulness was practical like Hestia's, symbolic of basic food sustenance rather than family love. Gaia gave birth to nothing but monsters.
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  5. Caelus

    Caelus Member

    Hecate is often mentioned as a virgin, Thalassa has no recorded kids. Though they are both technically Titans, Zeus treated Hekata like an Olympian.
  6. @Caelus
    yup, it is also said that Hecate's power is the same as with Zeus, that's why when the Olympians came into power and Zeus got the throne, He(Zeus) didn't mess with Hecate.
    Also, one version is that Hecate is Hades' wife before Persephone, and that also Cerberus was once Hecate's pet before being a guard dog.
  7. Caelus

    Caelus Member

    @Eirine

    Interesting, I just came across a reference to her being Hermes consort.
  8. Caelus

    Caelus Member

    Just came across a passage in Hesiod's cosmos. Zeus possibly didn't mate with Hekata because their children could have been powerful enough to dispose him. Same with Styx.
  9. Caelus

    Caelus Member

    Are there actually any virgin male gods in the Greeks mythos?

    Note - should have held off and put all that into one post. Sorry about that.
  10. @Caelus
    Wow! just learned that from you, never thought that she's one of Hermes' consorts. (Hermes has lots of mistresses too :p)
  11. Caelus

    Caelus Member

    @Eirine

    Can you point me in the right direction for Hekata's involvement with Hades and Cerebus?
  12. Nadai

    Nadai Active Member

    I believe Thetis was supposed to be a virgin goddess until Zeus helped Peleus rape her. There was a prophecy that if Thetis gave birth she would have a son who would rule his kind; if she had a god-son he would rule the gods and if she had a human son he would rule over humans. So Zeus called on Peleus(a human) to take her as his wife, meaning rape her, so that her son would not be a god. After her rape she birthed Achilles, who would have been king had Paris not gotten in a lucky shot. *Thetis should have double-dipped* I believe from then on she stayed celibate.
  13. @Caelus

    Uh oh, I think I have to remember on where and when I read it, but I promise that I'll keep you notified. As far as I know, it is a blog. :p
  14. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    There are several other virgin goddesses in Greek mythology. Among these are the Moirai (the three Fates Atropos, Klotho and Lakhesis) and the Erinnyes (the three Furies Alekto, Megaira and Tisiphone). Also we have the three Horai: Dike, Eunomia and Eirene. Pindaros ascribes to Dike a daughter Hesykhia, who, however, seems to have been conceived parthenogenetically, like many of the universe's most ancient beings. There's an Orphic hymn which calls Eunomia the mother, by Zeus, of the Kharites, but this is a very unique occurrence of that notion in the mythology. Two of the three Kharites were virgin goddesses, namely Euphrosyne and Thaleia. Of the nine Muses, only one, Polyhymnia, the Muse of religious hymns, was a virgin. There are also Hygieia, the goddess of good health, and the Titaness Astraia, who was equated with her second cousin Dike.

    Britomartis, a goddess of hunting and fishing, was a virgin, and in fact fled from the advances of her half-brother King Minos of Crete in order to preserve her virginity. She was also called Diktynna and closely identified with her half-sister Artemis. The Naiad Sinope is said, in one version of the story of her abduction by Apollon, to have succeeded in getting him to grant her perpetual virginity, after which the god was forced to leave her alone.

    One of the "holy" secret sayings at the mysteries in honour of Hera at Nauplia in Argolis was that, ever since her marriage to Zeus, she annually came to bathe in a spring at Nauplia in order to regain her virginity (and the assumption is that she somehow actually achieved this; I'm not sure if the spring had the same effect on all bathers there or just this goddess alone).

    I could find only one context in which Kerberos (Cerberus) ever seems to be associated directly with Hekate, and that's in an ancient Italian vase-painting from Apulia, when Herakles (Hercules) has descended into the Underworld on his twelfth and final task of returning with the monster dog to Argolis in the upper world. In it, q.v.: http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/T16.2.html , Hekate appears thereat seemingly just to indicate the location of the scene: the Underworld, where she now dwells, rather than necessarily in connection with the dog. Hekate's association with Haides (Hades) begins with the misadventure which turns the young goddess Kore into Haides' bride Persephone. After Hekate helps Kore's mother Demeter to find her daughter, Hekate becomes an attendant of Persephone and is thenceforward recognised as a goddess of the Underworld, which actually only happened later in history.
    There actually are mentions of Thalassa bearing offspring, though in most of the instances they have no father. Hyginus says that she and Pontos were the parents of the fishes of the seas (the seas being = Pontos and Thalassa). By Poseidon she is supposed to have become the mother of the Telkhines named Damnameneus, Lykos and Skelmis, though in another version Pontos is the father and the Telkhines are Aktaios, Lyktos, Megalesios and Ormenos, and they have a sister named Halia too. Admete, who usually occurs as an Oceanid, and the River Kephissos are also once called the children of Pontos and Thalassa. Nonnos, the writer of the Dionysiaka, considers Thalassa to be the mother of Aphrodite, saying that the Mediterranean Sea (= Thalassa), into which Kronos cast the severed genitalia of Ouranos (Uranus), was thus impregnated by these genitalia which then transformed into Aphrodite.


    There are actually several virgin gods too, though they are minor ones, and mostly mere personifications of concepts. Hymenaios, the god of marriage, ironically is the first that comes to mind: he is never married nor has any consort or offspring. I don't know if the god Hermaphroditos becoming physically combined with Salmakis, the nymph who loved him, still qualifies him for virginity. I'll let you decide that. The most obvious virgin god, however, has to be Thanatos, the personification and god of death. His nephew Morpheus, who like his father Hypnos was a god of sleep and dreams, also seems to have been a virgin. (Hypnos' and Thanatos' sisters Ker, the personification of violent death [as opposed to Thanatos, who was peaceful death], and Eleos, the personification of compassion, were virgin goddesses.)
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
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  15. Michael Sean Brown

    Michael Sean Brown New Member

    @Alejandro

    What a wealth of information. I will be referring to this quite a bit as I investigate what meaning virginity conveyed about the goddess or god. I am working on a paradigm that considers the gods and goddesses as archetypes representing the various chakras (energetic centers within our bodies as described by many yogic/Vedic systems). Within this, some of the pairings that I have identified include:
    • Zeus as the Ajna (fire element),
    • the Trinity of Hestia, Athena, and Artemis as the Manas chakra (water element),
    • Mnemosyne as the Manas chakra in a different stage of our evolution (and who was improplerly replaced by Moneta by the Romans as she represents the fire of the Ajna instead of the sensuality of the water/mind Manas)
    • Apollo as the material (and sub-conscious) Hrit chakra (air element; and he's sent by Zeus to "Earth" (Anahata/Heart chakra)).
    • Like Apollo, Odin (Ajna) sends Thor (the creative Hrit chakra who is evolving from the belligerent Manipura/Power/Transformative chakra) to experience a taste of humanity which will finally ground him so he can consciously evolve.)
    So what does "virginity" represent? So far I've isolated it to being one of the conscious chakras and an unwillingness to mix it up with the material chakras. But that's not spot on, there's seriously something more to it. For example, Hera's bathing at "the spring at Nauplia" restore her virginity, which is restoring her maidenhood, which is essentially restoring her to the state of a nine year old child.

    This is similar to the Fountain of Youth which I believe Apollo came upon as he mingled with the nine Muses. The Muses are "children of Mnemosyne" and Zeus. There are nine Muses, Zeus slept with Mnemosyne nine nights, Odin hung from the tree nine nights, Durga fought Mahisa nine nights, and all resulted in great and similar rewards. So Apollo was cozy with the nine Muses and I believe that the Fountain of Youth (and the Nauplia spring) is probably the pineal gland, although it may be the pituitary or another gland not yet known by me.

    This isn't a very cohesive exposition of what I'm working on, but it might be enough to catalyze a response that may put some vector to my thrust.

    Any thoughts?
  16. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    Whoa. Well, I'm certainly no expert on symbolism or cakras [chakras], and the only obvious connection I can make between the Greek pantheon and the Vedas is the linguistic link between Zeus and the Vedic sky-god Dyauṣ (similar to the link between the Latin Juppiter and Dyauṣ's alias Dyauṣ-Pitā) and between Eos and the Vedic dawn-goddess Uṣas [Ushas], so I would have to defer to you on what cakra they may represent. I've heard that the planet Earth itself supposedly has such energy points, perhaps connected with ley lines, and I would more easily see the Titans, the Gigantes and other [cosmic] children of Gaia as representations of cakras, with the Earth as a representation of the human body. In Hindu mythology there is a race or group of gigantic āsuras (the traditional enemies of the gods), called the Danavas, who greatly resemble the Greek Titans. The first Danavas, one hundred in number, were the sons of the sage Kāśyapa by one of his wives Danu. By another wife Kāśyapa was the father of the gods. Anyway, one of these first hundred Danavas was called Ekacakra [Ekachakra], whose name seems to mean "One Cakra" or "[The] First Cakra," but nothing of interest seems to be related about him as a story character.

    As for the meaning of virginity among the Hellenic immortals, apart from the major and more famous goddesses of whom it was said that they had sworn themselves to celibacy or for some other reason remained virgins, the only meaning I can see in it is that it was simply in their character to be celibate. A lot of them, such as Thanatos, Ker, the Moirai and the Erinnyes, personified concepts which we could say are sterile in nature or being close to death, dissolution and the end of things rather than the generation of life and progeny. But then again, as I've mentioned before, Hymenaios, the god of marriage himself, seems to have been a virgin deity, so maybe I'm headed in the wrong direction on that one. Speaking of Indian myths, Yama, the Hindu personification and god of death, Thanatos' equivalent, on the other hand, had wives and a number of children, although he is often conflated and equated with another Hindu god named Dharma, who is more frequently ascribed the wives and kids.

    By the way, I don't know if this should be of interest to you at all or no, but the Nauplian spring in which Hera would take her annual virginity bath was called Kanathos [Canathus], or so Pausanias tell us. A friend of mine recently told me that the pineal gland is most active in very young children - babies, I think it is so supposed - so maybe there is a connection between innocence (or Hera's return to it) and this organ. Then again I'm also no expert on physiology or physiognometrics (apparently there really is such a word, which someone came up with in the 1800s - I didn't make it up! :p).
  17. EphesusLady

    EphesusLady New Member

    Hi
    I'm new to this so bear with me but I know of a couple more Virgin Goddesses. They are Hestia, the goddess of the hearth and Iris, the goddess of the rainbow. I don't know much about Iris but Hestia was pursued by both Poseidon and Apollo but she turned them both down preferring to remain a virgin. Hope that helps a bit.
  18. Myrddin

    Myrddin Well-Known Member

    There is also Astraea, the goddess of justice, innocence and purity. She was the daughter of either Zeus and Themis or Astraeus and Eos. She was later placed among the stars by Zeus.
    E. M.
  19. Misa

    Misa Member

    Quite a lot of goddesses I see, but no mention of the hunters of Artemis - among them men - who also practiced virginity/chastity?

    Hippolytos, for one, the son of Theseus and the Amazon Hippolyte or Antiope; one of the reasons given for his rejection of his father's wife and his step mother Pha edra's love (a curse given to her by Aphrodite in revenge against Hippolytos for scorning love) is because he swore chaste as Artemis's devote. Phaedra killed herself and wrote a suicide note saying it was because Hippolytos had violated her, and so his father Theseus cursed him and asked vengeance by Poseidon - who apparently made a chariot Hippolytos was on fall and kill him, with a serpent or bull sent from the sea to make his horses panic.

    Artemis, when he died either payed Asklepios to bring him back to life or he did so voluntarily (for which some say was the cause of Zeus killing Asklepios) apparently Asklepios had crossed a line, not only bringing back Hippolytos but making him immortal - he's said to be Virbius or Virbio a woodland god of Rome where he is companion to Diana/Artemis and was a ruler/king/god of the woodland or lake of Arikia/Ariccia.

    It might be worth noting too that Hippolytos was said to have built a temple to Artemis Lykeie (Wolfish) and the reason of the surname/title could not be determined by Pausanias so he reasoned that it was "I could learn nothing from the local guides, but I gathered that either Hippolytos destroyed wolves that were ravaging the land of Troizenos [with the help of Artemis], or else that Lykeia is a surname of Artemis among the Amazones, from whom he was descended through his mother."

    The father of Amazons is usually given to be Ares by either Otrere or Harmonia - no parents are mentioned for either lady. Yet Artemis Ephesos is a goddess they worship.

    So I would not be so sure that Artemis was always thought a goddess without children by consorts, who were expected to remain chaste (my meaning being they weren't to be with another woman while with her).

    Aktaion, the famed hunter turned to a hind and devoured by his hounds for spying upon -purposely or not, with lust or not - Artemis while bathing in her favored river Parthenius in the valley of Gargaphia. He like Orion is said to have been her hunting companion and likely had given a vow to be chaste. Pausanias says he would have taken Semele for wife (one must wonder if the madness of his hounds was caused by Dionysus and not Artemis, who perhaps only meant to turn him into a hind).

    Another boy who spotted Artemis bathing was Sipriotes and he quickly became a she. Nothing else is known about him/her, but Kainis/Caenis who Poseidon promised anything to if she would sleep one night with him agreed and later granted her wish to be a man - hero named Kaineus/Caeneus - and made him invulnerable to weapons. I find the parallel interesting.

    Interestingly Adonis is mentioned to be one of her hunters, and she sent a boar (Ares?) to be killed on a hunt because she had been angered by him.

    Orion, Artemis is known for killing him either after he tried to rape Opis, or came back to her from Eos's bed; or a boast he made against Artemis - or against the beasts of Gaia, or Apollo killed him by a trick.

    Hymenaios was a lover of Apollo, or had a wife before he died and became a god I think. Iris had by Zephyros a son Pothos (Passion) I think, and ever since artists have read about her going to wake Morpheus or Hypnos there have been art of the two seeming to be embracing. Pothos seems not to have a lover.

    Eos had sons, Notus/Notos, the south wind & Euros/Eurus the east wind who aren't mentioned with mates or children. Geras had no children, he was a child of Nyx, and god of old age.
  20. Last Spartan

    Last Spartan New Member

    Hi, new here.

    I believe Nike, goddess of victory, was also a virgin, since I can't find any references of her having any consorts or children anywhere.

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